The Society of Professional Journalists actually has a code of ethics. It looks very carefully-prepared and well thought-out. I'm sure it's covered during at least one week of j-school.
It says in its preamble:
Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty.
So, I have like, these questions. Much "mainstream" national news coverage is unreliable and suffers from gross errors of omission. It's often irritating, but more often, useless. Or let me put this another way. It has been at least two years, or more, since I uncritically and eagerly read any top "mainstream" news site's information. Now, I read looking for errors, or to see how long I can go before I snort in derisive laughter. I could name names.
But I'm not the only person who regularly consults the Drudge Report. In other words, I've always kind of had a soft spot for the totally irritating, crazy-seeming Matt Drudge, but none of that matters. I'm letting Matt Drudge do my picking and choosing for me. At least 20% of Matt's daily links consist of some embarrassing snafu, gaffe or business downturn for traditional media. I enjoy it, and cheer it on.
Yes, I, the former intern at the formerly very proud Los Angeles Times. I'll laugh and cheer the day they finally give up the ghost.
Why? Because they SO deserve it, and have made such a mockery of that journalistic code of ethics I copied above. Do I hate individual reporters? Of course not! I, the former crummy, cheap short-time reporter, know how it feels to make a dollar an inch or whatever pathetic amount it was (truly forgetting - time is your friend). I know what it feels like to sit at a WATER BOARD MEETING and have to write it up. I also know what a car accident that involved a decapitation looks like. Yes, both parts of the person's body, in both of their separate locations. Head in the bushes, body in the drivers' seat. I know what a pig that fell off a truck in the middle of the night, in the 2nd freeway lane, looks like after he's been hit by a few passers-by.
Is the Los Angeles Times worse than the Washington Post or the NY Times? No. They were worse before, and they are way worse now. But the LA Times is purposely lying about illegal immigration and spending money it doesn't really have sending idiotic reporters to different states to interview sad, downtrodden "undocumented immigrants" who are "hiding in the shadows." That means they are deliberately avoiding the true story in their own community and trying to influence public opinion to support a total lie in a town whose main problems are NIMBYISM, NAIVETE, KING KONG SIZED EGO POLITICIANS and Hollywood nimrods. And - the lack of money. Lack of money that's closing LA's public libraries left and right, with librarians laid off - as they continue to print articles begging people to have sympathy on the poor illegal immigrant families hiding in the shadows in racist Arizona.
I'm not entirely sure people in Los Angeles would care if there were nearly a kidnapping a day here, as occurs in Phoenix. I mean, it might never be covered in the newspaper at all, and if John and Ken didn't get on the story, nobody would know.
Notice I don't mention "television."
Who watches TV for news unless it's a live helicopter chase, 16-year old girl sailing alone around the world, lost in a storm, or a terrorist attack?
I keep thinking about Watergate, and thinking that it was really the source and fountain of this karma malaise we are all living through. That was the turning point. Because journalists weren't wrong to keep President John F. Kennedy's several girlfriends and active lovelife to themselves. It didn't impact upon the job he was doing as President. Woodward and Bernstein were heroes to the current crop of j-school grads who are presiding over the end of their journalistic era. They were really assholes, and reading about "Deep Throat" (Mark Felt) feeding them the entire Watergate story with a big spoon of vitriol makes me think they were probably the most incompetent jerks ever to be called "great" and made into models for others. It's not that Watergate was right, it was just that, in comparison to really horrible stuff that has happened since (and which surely happened before), it was so totally blown out of proportion.
Every hideous, dysfunctional, staggering old drunk in America turned out to have been an important Congressional committee chair. These were the weenies I saw on TV when I was a kid. I sat there and wondered, "What is wrong with that horrible old man?" (Sen. Sam Ervin).
It's four decades later, and it might as well be the same horrible old man. Nothing has changed. It's just been clang-clang-clang-bash-bash-bash ever since. Democrats got a taste of viciousness with Watergate and went for the jugular. Then came Robert Bork, and they decided to "Bork" everybody else too.
Republicans decided they'd had enough, and went for the jugular - or shall we say, somewhat lower - trying to impeach President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Most people, thinking logically, would think Watergate wasn't that great, but going after the President over poor Monica - well - again, super-embarrassing for him, our dear Hillary, and especially for Chelsea.
So, here we are today and the news media is genuinely, truly, covering up for whatever awful clusterfuck has occurred to prevent any type of coherent defense against the Gulf oil spill. And that is exactly what we get. We'll never hear the truth or any kind of responsible reporting about "Global Warming," and in fact, we'll have dozens of documentaries produced and aired constantly to prove this ludicrous non-premise. Honestly, I do not care that Al Gore molested that masseuse (I'm sorry for her, of course) - because his book and Academy-Award-winning documentary are so full of b.s. that has clearly and provably enriched him by tens, and now, hundreds of millions of dollars. Directly. And we can't even use plastic grocery bags any more. For years, I wondered, what exactly are excessive carbon emissions? I finally looked it up, and there were actually TEN to TWENTY times greater parts-per-million in carbon dioxide at MANY times in the earth's past. Nobody/nothing died due to the earth becoming a "burning ring of fire" at those times. The Carboniferous age was the age of big trees, big ferns, and big bugs - now giving us, you guessed it - the fossil fuels that we currently use.
I have a lot of things that I do! This is mostly because, when I write a story or research for a book, I work and work to find the truth. I spend a great deal of time looking into original sources, and finding out the best information that I can discover. This has taken the form of research into genetic therapies for a variety of illnesses, prosthetic devices for those who are blind or quadriplegic, and such arcane matters as potential exceptions to the speed of light, or unusual concepts such as space and time being features of the existence of biological life - not permanent, immutable "laws".
We still have news media that's reporting the U.S. is in an economic recovery, for heaven's sake. And they expect to be paid for this. It's no wonder that Congress is working on mechanisms to provide government funding for newspapers and journalists. It's no wonder whatsoever.